Biggest cause of data leaks: Human errors

Biggest cause of data leaks: Human errors

Last Updated on: 3/3/22

It's hard to believe that the GDPR has already been in place for four years! It seems like yesterday that Europeans were going about their data carefree... That's mostly because the introduction of the GDPR brought a number of changes. That means more responsibilities for organizations, more privacy rights for people, and high fines for those who did not comply. Additionally, organizations must report a data leak within twenty-four hours. A fact that has seen a significant increase in the number of reported data leaks.

More than 390.000 personal data leaks have been reported by organizations, from May 25th 2018 to January 22 of 2022, according to DLA Piper. Germany, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom had the most reported data leaks, with 106,731, 92,657 and 40,026 respectively. 


Source: DLA Piper



Secure email doesn't have to be difficult. We'll walk you through all the steps here!


Human error causes most data leaks

Of course when we think of data leaks we think of hackers and phishing, cybercriminals existing in the shadows who are out to intercept your sensitive data. The biggest cause of data leaks might therefore surprise you: human error.

According to a study by IBM, human error is the main cause of 95% of cyber security breaches.

That might mean your employees are your weakest link in the chain of data security

This is what a data leak could look like:
Ellen is about to send an email. Not only is there sensitive information in the message, but also in the attachment (personal company data). She intends to send the message to Matthew, an accountant within the company, requesting it, but autofill has other plans... 

Filling out 'Matthew' and hitting enter was a mistake waiting to happen and by sending it, Ellen's client Matthew has received the information instead. Can we still call it a careless mistake when the wrong Matthew now has access to sensitive data? Or is it more serious than that? 


GDPR Fines

Such mistakes are often made by lack of awareness. Its consequences can be catastrophic: The GDPR can and will fine you on data leaks with a maximum of 20 million euros or 2-4% of the annual turnover. That makes it a careless mistake with massive consequences. 

According to the DLA Piper's latest GDPR fines and data breach report, the dubious honor of the biggest fine goes to Luxembourg who fined a US online retailer 746 million euros. The grand total of the top ten largest fines since 2018 is well over 1 billion euros (1.168 to be exact!) since the introduction of the GDPR. 


Picture it: what will happen if privacy-sensitive information of your organization falls into the wrong hands?



Awareness is key to minimize data leaks

It's impossible to stay free of data leaks when a data leak is at the tip of someone's finger, no matter how well-meaning they are. However, you can absolutely minimize the risk of a data leak by increasing awareness. Privacy-sensitive information will then be given the care that it requires and the risks are minimized. So how do you go about creating awareness? 


Tips to prevent data leaks

We have two golden tips for you, so you can always email securely:

1) Use a secure email provider with the right functionalities that respond to awareness. Do you get notifications when sensitive information has been added to the email? Is it possible to check whether the correct recipient or files have been selected before sending?  By doing so, you ensure sensitive data is shared with the right security and the right information is shared with the right recipient(s).

2) Use an email solution that allows you to block emails if a mistake is done. Have you sent information to the wrong recipient? or, have you shared the wrong files? A solution that gives you the ability to recall sent emails after sending them, will be able to fix this



There is no need to panic when it comes to data security: you just need to know what to pay mind to. Curious how? Our free whitepaper will tell you all about it!

New call-to-action

Similar posts